Press release from Asheville City Schools
In August 2021, Asheville City Schools’ Maintenance Department engaged with a third-party consultant, Synergy Sports Global LLC, to assess the safety and code compliance of the Jones Park Playground. To clarify, this is NOT the primary playground that Ira B. Jones students utilize during recess, but is the one community members and their families have access to on Ira B. Jones Elementary School’s property. Out of 100, Jones Park Playground’s safety inspection was ranked at 14.7. In total, 59 issues were identified from the following categories:
- ADA and accessibility
- Deterioration of equipment
- General hazards
- General maintenance
- Paint and powder coating
- Security of hardware
- Signage failure to warn
According to the report prepared by Synergy, “Jones Park Playground has served its useful life … poses a safety risk to users and has the potential to structurally fail.” The full report can be found here.
Therefore, beginning immediately, the Jones Park Playground will be closed to all students and community members until further notice. Temporary fencing will begin going up around the playground as early as Thursday, Aug. 26.
We know and understand the playground is a valuable asset to the neighborhood and school community. Thousands of students have grown up playing at the park, and many parents donated their time and financial resources to build the park.
However, at this time, the park is not safe and uninsurable. Therefore, we must quickly act to ensure no one gets hurt.
The initial playground safety audit shows that the cost to make improvements to the current structure would be more than 50% of the replacement cost and exceeds “the added useful life of this play equipment.” Therefore, fixing the playground as it currently stands is neither fiscally responsible nor an option Asheville City Schools would like to pursue.
Synergy recommends that the Jones Park Playground structure be “replaced as soon as feasible.” The estimated cost to do so is between $85,000 – $150,000, depending on which new structure is selected.
School administrators, district leadership and the Asheville City Board of Education will be exploring several possible options. Our eventual hope is to replace the beloved playground as funds become available. However, such a project will take time, community support and community input.
Thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to determine next steps. Please know we will continue to update you as progress is made.